For the sixth time in the last 10 years, a team of FFA students from North Lenoir High School has finished first in state competition that gauges students’ understanding of the meat processing industry and tests their ability to judge the quality of cuts of meat.
The team of Shyanna Mobley, Zack Jenkins and Summer West kept North Lenoir’s impressive string alive last week at the North Carolina FFA State Convention in Raleigh. As state winners, they will compete at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in October.
“This is on the same level as a sports team winning a state title,” said Reggie Jenkins, the animal science teacher at North Lenoir who advises the team. “I sent the team members a message Saturday: ‘You are playing for a national championship in October.’”
Teams from North Lenoir previously won the state championship in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Also at the state convention, North Lenoir agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Ray Scott Spence was recognized as winner of a North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Program Improvement Grant. Spence will use the $5,000 grant award to upgrade the welding lab for his agriculture mechanics class.
“There is not a harder working group of students and teachers than the Agriculture Education/FFA program. It is so exciting to see their efforts being rewarded,” said Jessica Shimer, LCPS’s career development coordinator. “Obviously they have the techniques of the Meat Evaluation event down to a science with the multiple wins over the years.”
The Meat Evaluation and Technology Career Development Event asks teams to identify retail meat cuts, tackle a situational problem involving the least cost formulation of a batch of particular meat products, take a written test to determine each member’s understanding of the meat science industry and food safety and judge retail meat quality.
For several years, Jenkins and his teams have partnered with Piggly Wiggly at Green Tree Plaza on U.S. 258 in Kinston for skill development.
Ag education is curriculum within LCPS’s Career and Technical Education program in middle and high schools, and FFA chapters at the schools give students an opportunity to develop leadership skills, discover careers in agriculture, travel and compete against their peers.
“It is so important to develop skills that allow our students to compete at the local, state and national level,” Shimer said. “These transferable skills prepare our students for future success in college and their careers. It takes them far beyond the classroom.”